Staff Correspondent

DEHRA DUN: Students and teachers seem to be competing with each other in staying away from schools .…. That’s not an offhand comment but a fact of life that surfaced after large-scale raids by Uttarakhand Education Department officials in 555 schools across Garhwal division of the hill State on Wednesday.

The raids were conducted after repeated warnings that absentee teachers would not be spared. Result: 85 teachers found missing from their schools have been suspended.

The officials found locks at the Government Inter College and the Government High School at Raunad Ramoli and the Government Primary School at Pokhri, all in Tehri district. “The Education Department will lodge FIRs against the Principals of these three schools,” said State Education Secretary Rakesh Kumar.

Fifty-nine per cent students in urban schools of Dehra Dun and 48 per cent in urban schools of Hardwar were found missing from the classes, it was stated. The large-scale absenteeism among students is definitely due to the reckless attitude of the teachers , said senior officials, adding that a deeper probe might reveal siphoning off of mid-day meals and other funds on a large scale.